Victoria has posted another six COVID-related deaths and 7169 new cases, its lowest daily figure in more than a month.
The state is now managing just under 61,000 active coronavirus cases in total.
Health authorities say there are currently 652 virus patients in Victorian hospitals. Of these, 73 are in intensive care and 28 are in need of ventilation.
With the Omicron wave now dwindling, pressure continues to ease on the state’s once-overrun PCR testing system.
Of the new cases, 4466 were detected from rapid antigen tests and 2703 via PCR tests from a total of 20,624 processed in the 24-hour window.
Kate Matson, a deputy secretary of Victoria’s health department, says there has been a “significant improvement” in recent test turnaround times.
Tens of thousands of PCR tests were deemed invalid in January after pathology clinics were overwhelmed and could not process them within seven days.
Testing back on track
However Ms Matson said on Saturday 97.4 per cent of PCR test results were now being returned to people within 24 hours.
Wait times to get a PCR test also blew out to multiple hours in January at many Melbourne sites, with staff forced to suspend testing.
But with less COVID-19 spreading in the community, it is currently taking an average of five minutes for Victorians to get a PCR test across the network.
Those still struggling to get their hands on a rapid antigen test are being urged to join the queue for a “gold standard” PCR test.
With COVID-19 hospitalisations also trending downwards, the Victorian government is allowing private hospitals and day centres to restart non-urgent elective surgery at 50 per cent of normal levels from Monday.
Ms Matson expects hospitalisations to keep falling but cases to either increase slightly or stabilise, due to increased movement.
In a bid to fast-track the city’s recovery, the state opposition has renewed its call for the Andrews government to abandon mandatory masks in offices and scrap a recommendation for people to work from home when possible.